Mint 400 Race Recap
Rookie Motorsports went all out literally at the 2019 Mint 400. The team arrived on Wednesday, March 6th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The team was up early on Thursday morning with owner/driver Ryan Mcintire and head mechanic Greg Forsberg hauling the car down to the contingency location. The Rookie Motorsports car sponsored by Gearhead Coffee was parked next to the Gearhead Coffee booth for most of the day. Matt Strandberg made his way down to registration and the entire team rolled through to get their bands as well as some pretty cool swag that the Mint 400 was handing out. After getting through registration the car breezed through tech inspection and was ready for some Friday testing.
Friday morning the team woke up and headed down to state line to start dialing in the clutches and to break in the new motor. It was a long day of tuning but after several hours the team was able to get the car dialed in exactly where they wanted it. The day didn't go with out issues as the team had to replace a torn axle boot, torque and check all the bolts as well as purchase more fuel.
On Saturday the team made their way down to Primm, Nevada and made their way into the main pit to stake out a pit location. The day was spent buttoning up loose ends on the car as well as mingling with the other racers. It was another long day and the team made its way back to the hotel to get cleaned up and have a nice team dinner the night before the race. However, being that the team was so large finding a restaurant that could accommodate them was pretty much impossible so the team split off for the night.
4:30am came really quickly on Sunday morning, especially since the clocks all sprung forward one hour. The UTV's had to be staged at 5:00am, so Ryan and Matt made their way down to the pits. After gearing up they loaded up and made their way to the staging area. The teams were split into 3 groups and assigned pit locations. Main pit was Greg Forsberg, Duane Wilde and Wesley Graves. Pit A was Ron Satter, Ricky Farmer while Pit B was Bryan Graves and Kyle Ford.
After staging, Ryan and Matt had a long wait as 120 other cars had to start in front of them. Finally it was time for them to take off in the 9th pairing in the Pro UTV class. When the green light flashed Ryan hammered down and by the first turn had already started pulling away from the other utv. After making their way out of the infield section they headed across the bridge and out into the desert. The first 35 miles were pretty uneventful with Ryan and Matt keeping a great pace and not allowing anyone to pass them. When they came through pit A they were told they were physically 15th and 10 minutes behind the leader.
After making their way out of pit A is where the day turned. Ryan took off with the pedal down while Matt was getting the intervals for a car they spotted behind them. Ryan spotted a car about 200 yards in front and hammered down to catch up to him. Assuming the road was smooth Ryan did not see the massive Fox Proving Grounds through the dust. Matt looked up at the last second to yell slow down but it was too late. The car plowed through a rough section of rollers, flew into the air and nose dived into the ground. Derek Towery, a good friend of the Rookie Team, was magically there to help tow them back to the pits. After getting there they realized that the lower and upper A arms were destroyed as well as the hub and steering tie rod. The team hopped to work while parts were being sent from Main Pit.
After about 2.5 hours of working the car was ready to get back on the course and try for a finish. Ryan was extremely cautious while finishing out the first lap due to not having any brakes and also was a little on edge after nearly rolling the car. After getting into the pits and fixing a few issues with the rear hubs, Ryan and Matt took back off for their second lap. The lap was going great until RM 15, while doing 82mph the engine decided it didn't want to race anymore and blew. The day was over for them!
It was a disappointing day for the whole team, but that's racing. We will be back at it April 6th for the UTV World Championships. We would like to thank all of our sponsors, Gearhead Coffee, Lonestar Racing, Summers Brothers Axles, Weddle Industries, Double E Racing, Method Race Wheels, Tensor Tires, Monster Seal, Tireballs and Fox Shocks. Also thank you to all the Mint 400 and Best in the Desert crew and volunteers for working so hard to make this possible for us. Also thank you to the fans and everyone that follows Rookie Motorsports we truly appreciate it.
Lastly I would like to thank my entire team and family. Without you guys doing what you do and taking time off work this would not be possible. It was great to have all the wives and girlfriends with us at the race and I want to thank them as well. Lets get this on track and go kick some butt at the UTV World Championships!